Between 300 and 350 of the dismissed personnel after the thwarted coup were fighter pilots and as a result TuAF is now short of F-16 drivers
However, the move has been blocked by the Pentagon.
Ankara in fact needs Washington’s permission for training with a third country as stipulated in the contract when the F-16 was sold to Turkey.
Turkey then requested to have American pilots to train in the country but the Pentagon replied that Turkey should send its trainees to U.S. instead.
According to daily Hürriyet the Pentagon has rejected Ankara’s request, saying that “there is no program regarding training pilots abroad. If you send your F-16 pilots to the U.S., we can train them here.”
Noteworthy 25 of the thwarted coup-pilots were F-16 drivers and 11 of them performed strike missions against strategic sites.
Moreover after the attempted coup, it came to light that a significant number of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fehullah Gülen followers were part of Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force, TuAF) and 1,752 personnel belonging to the service were dismissed with state of emergency decrees.
According to official numbers, between 300 and 350 of those dismissed were fighter pilots and as a result TuAF is now short of F-16 drivers.
TuAF is one of the main operators of the iconic F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet since 1987 when the service received the first of eight Vipers purchased directly from the U.S.. Subsequently 232 more F-16s (Block 30/40/50) were produced locally by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). TAI is currently building 30 new F-16 Block 50+ aircraft the TuAF and is upgrading the existing fleet of Block 30/40/50 F-16s to the Block 50+ standard.
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